After success of the Impossible Burger, is the Impossible Salmon next?
Impossible Foods co-founder Tal Ronnen sees the company expanding to fish and dairy products as well.
When 300 Burger King locations introduced its Impossible Whopper earlier this year – billed as 100% whopper, 0% meat – the fast food chain had an enviable problem: The new product was too popular. So much so that the burger's producer, California-based Impossible Foods, experienced a production shortage.
Which is not surprising, considering the Impossible Burger – a plant-based protein – is now on the menu at about 9,000 restaurants across the U.S., including at stadiums and ballparks. By this fall, that number will practically double when 7,000 more Burger King locations start selling it. And, if that's not enough, Impossible Foods plans on rolling it out to your local grocery stores by the end of the year.
Tal Ronnen, an Israeli chef and restaurateur, helped co-found Impossible Foods and is now on its board. Asked if he's had any complaints, Ronnen can only think of one. "I've heard a lot of vegetarians and vegans say it tastes too much like meat," he joked to From The Grapevine. He also added that there's a health benefit. "People who really could use a change in their diet are people that are eating meat-heavy diets."
While Impossible Foods has garnered much attention, there are others entering the space as well. Poultry conglomerate Tyson Foods acquired a 5% stake in Beyond Meat, a competitor to Impossible Foods. Market research firm UBS predicts the plant-based meat market will grow by 28% a year and reach $85 billion by 2030.
To stay ahead of the game, Impossible Foods doesn't plan on stopping with burgers. "Impossible's goals are to have plant-based alternatives to all meat, fish, poultry and dairy," Ronnen said. Pat Brown, the CEO of Impossible Foods, recently told the New York Times, “The only way we can succeed is to make fish from plants that is more delicious than the fish that’s strip mined from the ocean.”
The Impossible Burger is available at restaurants nationwide, including at the Buckhorn BBQ in San Francisco. (Photo: Chris Allan / Shutterstock)
Plant-based alternatives are just the tip of the equation. Other startups are creating meat and fish in a laboratory using cells from real animals. At the moment, San Francisco-based Wild Type is developing a cell-based salmon that's so good, diners at a recent tasting couldn't tell the difference.
Israeli company Aleph Farms Ltd. has unveiled the first cell-grown minute steak, delivering the full experience of meat with the appearance, shape and texture of beef cuts. They’ve successfully grown slaughter-free steak, without the need for devoting vast tracts of land, water, feed and other resources to raise cattle for meat – and it uses no antibiotics. The Wall Street Journal sent a reporter to Tel Aviv to taste-test it, which you can see in the video below:
Another Israeli firm, called Super Meat, is creating a method for bioengineering cultured meat from animal cells. Its first mission: to grow chicken breasts without ever harming a single chicken. The startup was included in a $300 million trade deal between Israel and China to export lab-grown meats. "In Israel, it really is all about the animals," said CEO Ido Savir. "People are very focused on ending animal suffering as quickly and efficiently as possible, which is why the vegan movement in Israel is also very supportive of clean meat."
All of these companies offer alternatives for vegans and vegetarians, but their so-called "clean meat" is also helping alleviate environmental concerns. "It's not raised in a filthy environment. It's not negative to the environment like raising cattle for food is," Ronnen told us. "There's no emissions, and all of those resources that go into growing meat are drastically reduced."
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